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Fat Guy

World's best carrot-cake recipe

230 posts in this topic

Now I know why I don't make carrot cakes more often. It took me two #$^&*@ hour to hand grate the carrots.

Katie and Varmint, you guys are right. The frog commissionary carrot cake os out of this world. And, I don't feel one bit of guilt eating it since I technically worked off the calories in advance by grating those damn carrots.


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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The perfect carrot cake recipe............you'll never find one that everyone agrees on, not on this subject.

Actually I think so much of our preferences comes from previous experience. What I seek in a great carrot cake recipe probably ties back to some memory of a piece I once had. I can't be open minded from there. Sure I've tried alot of carrot cake recipes inluding newier versions with fresh ginger or cakes that just happen to contain carrots........but none of them seem right-they don't match that old memory. I gotta give these other carrot cakes a different name......they just aren't traditional enough for me....even though I like them.

My defination of a traditional carrot cake must include: carrots, chopped nuts, pineapple, coconut and cinnamon. You can play around with using butter or not, buttermilk or not. etc....but it's gotta have those 5 main flavors for my defination. Then lastly it's gotta have cream cheese frosting............anything else and every midwesterner would rebel! It's ying and yang would be out of balance.

Oh and this does count as 1 serving of vegetable on the food chart........

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Grated carrots that have started to ferment... you know how they get the foam. That makes the most flavorfal carrot cake i've ever had. It actually tastes like... carrots


Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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I decided to make GG's recipe tonight. Pretty good for the second type of cake I've ever tried. (The first being cheesecake.)

Here are the cakes coming out of the oven:

i10775.jpg

More bubbles than I expected, and I think they're a tad over done.

Here's the finished frosted cake:

i10779.jpg

I didn't chill the icing enough, so it dripped a bit.

Here's a big piece o' cake;

i10780.jpg

I was surprised at how good it is. The cake isn't very sweet, which offered a good contrast to the icing. It needed the ginger flavor to come out more, but I had a bitch of a time grating the ginger. I was using the grating side of my cheese grater, and ended up filling up all the holes on the grater with ginger mash and getting a puddle of ginger water underneath.

But I'm pretty happy with the cake. Now I'll throw it out so I don't eat it all. :biggrin:


Edited by Stone (log)

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It actually tastes like... carrots

Huh, you want it to taste like carrots, well then that version counts for a whole days servings a veg.'s.

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Carrot cake has always been one of my favorite desserts. I've only baked my own once, using a recipe on Epicurious. Could someone post a pic of the Frog Commissionary cake? I'm interested in trying that next...the pecan cream filling sounds divine! :biggrin:

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Clearly there's a lot of room for personal preference here, but just speaking for myself this is what I would see as the ideal carrot cake:

- Very traditional carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, nuts, and raisins -- no twists or variations

- Very moist cake

- Lots and lots of raisins and many nuts but with the raisins dominant

- Neither cake nor frosting to be sickly sweet

- Cake to be formed in layers so there's frosting throughout


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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In my experience, carrot cake does not traditionally include raisins. Pineapple, coconut and nuts yes, but raisins would tend to dominate the carrot too much and turn it into more of a generic spice cake.

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To the Frog Commissary carrot cake fans--

When you guys do the cake, do you do it with the sweet filling in the middle? I remember eating the cake at the Commissary and later making it to complaints that the filling was just too rich and too sweet (is there such a thing?) Admittedly, this feedback came from my husband, who also told me that my brownies were too chocolatey. WHat do your tasters say???

Just to add more confusion, I did a carrot cake taste-off last winter with three carrot cakes--the commissary one (without the filling but with the frosting), Nick Malgieri's carrot cake, and the one from cook's illustrated, where you use the food processor. Nick's won hands down (uses ginger, which gives it a little something special), along with RLB's white chocolate cream cheese buttercream. We use NIck's in the bakery, but use it with the commissary frosting, and there have been no complaints.

In a few weeks, I'll try a taste-off with our customers and let you know what they say.

Marjorie

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I ended up scraping out the filling in the middle of my frog commissionary cake. It was too sweet.


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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This is the ultimate carrot cake, and I do believe it meets all of your requirements.....or at least mine! It's flavorful and rich, but not heavy like a carrot bread. It's got plenty of raisins and walnuts and does not dare leave out the pineapple like so many other carrot cake recipes.

The icing is good too. It's got the cream cheese AND the butter AND the lemon juice, unlike those sad-sack cream cheese icings that use only cream cheese and sugar. This one's the best.

You could play with it if you feel so inclined, but it really doesn't need any crystallized ginger or maple or other foofiness. The cup and a half of butter ensures goodness in every bite.

Note: I always plump the raisins in the juice from the drained pineapple.

Mrs. Fields Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cups All-purpose flour

1 tbs Baking soda

1/4 tsp Salt

2 tsp Cinnamon

1 cup Light brown sugar, packed

1 cup White sugar

1 1/2 cup Butter, softened

3 large Eggs

2 tsp Pure vanilla extract

3 cups Grated carrots

1/2 cup Crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup (6-oz.) raisins

1 cup (4-oz.) chopped walnuts

ICING

16 oz Cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup Salted butter, softened

1 tbsp Fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)

2 tsp Pure vanilla extract

3 cups Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugars. Add butter, one egg and vanilla; blend with electric mixer on low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. And remaining eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition. Add carrots, pineapple, raisins and walnuts. Blend on low until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake in center of oven for 60-70 minutes. Toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then invert cakes on rack and cool to room temperature.

Icing: In a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth add lemon juice and vanilla; beat until combined. Add sugar gradually, mixing on low until smooth.

Place one layer on a cake platter, and with a metal spatula spread icing over the top to form a thin filling. Place second layer over the first, rounded side up. Coat the top and sides of the cake evenly with remaining icing. Refrigerate 1 hour to set icing.

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I ended up scraping out the filling in the middle of my frog commissionary cake. It was too sweet.

I didn't even get that far with the recipe... mine never did thicken beyond the consistency of the cream. What a waste of time -- and my last pint of heavy cream. :hmmm:

When I first read the Pecan Cream Filling recipe, I thought it looked vaguely familiar so I did some cookbook searching... bingo! With few discrepancies, it's nearly identical to Baker's Coconut-Pecan Filling for their German Chocolate Cake.

Soooo it was back to the stove with a few changes to the Pecan Cream Filling -- I'll post here what I came up with. It's excellent in the Frog Commissary Carrot Cake; not overly sweet and blends famously with the other flavors. "A definite keeper", sez carrot cake connoisseur hubby!

Caramel Pecan Filling

2 C. brown sugar (I use dark)

1/2 C. A/P flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. salt

1-1/2 C. milk (cream, if preferred)

1/2 C. unsalted butter

1-1/2 - 2 C. nuts, chopped

1 tsp. vanilla

Cook, stirring frequently, all ingredients (except nuts) on stovetop at low-medium heat approximately 20-30 minutes, or until creamy and smooth. Cool to room temperature, then stir in chopped nuts. I would not recommend refrigerating.

Since I too love "everything" in a carrot cake, the assembly order (from bottom to top) that I followed is:

Layer of cake

Spread with:

1/2 of a 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

Caramel Pecan Filling, spread to a thickness of 1/2-3/4"

Sprinkling of coconut, to taste

Repeat layering until top cake layer is in place, then ice the entire cake with CC Icing.

Fat Guy, no reason you can't add icing between the layers as well. :smile:

On it's own, I don't see the Frog Commissary cake as anything special to write home about. The filling is a definite asset... and my layering of the ingredients that were "missing" from the cake recipe gives it a current rating of m'm'm'm'm'm good.

Di

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When you guys do the cake, do you do it with the sweet filling in the middle? I remember eating the cake at the Commissary and later making it to complaints that the filling was just too rich and too sweet (is there such a thing?)

In my earlier post, I noted that I thought that the old recipe I had was nearly identical to the linked recipe, only it called for different proportions of ingredients. I have always felt that the recipe I had was too sweet, although I don't remember having that complaint when I ate the cake at The Commissary.

It now appears that the new recipe is still too sweet, even though it has less sugar than mine did.

Although this goes back many years, something tells me that the true filling recipe for this cake has never been released to the public.

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For those within a reasonable drive of Philadelphia, finished Commisary Carrot Cakes can be purchased from Frog-Commisary Caterers.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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all this discussion on carot cake brings to mind the fact that carrots from different areas taste quite different. for example, my husband and i drink freshly made carrot juice each morning. we have found that the sweetest juice comes from california carrots. we have compared fresh carrot juice from new jersey carrots, michigan carrots, canadian carrots, florida carrots, etc. the california carrots rule! no other carrots are as sweet. so i was thinking that the carrot cake bake-off should use carrots all from the same state otherwise it will be hard to compare tastes.

aliénor

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Although I make no claims to fame, I know what I like in a good carrot cake: spicy, moist, raisins, nuts, pineapple and coconut. However, when making this cake for parties, I generally leave the raisins out since so many people seem to dislike raisins. I have over the years developed and refined this recipe for my family:

Michael Lloyd’s Carrot Cake

5 eggs

2 ¾ cups sugar (2 cups white and ¾ cups brown)

1 ¼ lbs. shredded carrot

1 ½ cups vegetable oil

3 cups all-purpose flour (dip and sweep)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins

2 cups chopped walnuts

2 cups shredded coconut

20 oz. crushed pineapple with juice

Zest of one orange

Mix together: eggs, sugar, carrot and oil. Stir together: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and blend into carrot mixture. Stir in raisins, walnuts, coconut, pineapple and orange zest.

Spread into a greased 9” x 13” baking pan or divide evenly amongst three greased and floured 8” pans. Bake @ 325º for one hour and 10 minutes or until tester in center of cake comes out clean. The cake will be moist. Cool on rack and spread with frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup softened butter

1 cup powdered sugar

16 oz. cream cheese

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Beat together until smooth

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup softened butter

16 oz. cream cheese

12 oz. white chocolate

Melt the white chocolate and cool until lukewarm. Beat the butter and cream cheese until well mixed. Stir in the melted chocolate and beat until fluffy.


Edited by MGLloyd (log)

Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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These posts remind me of my carrot cake story.

A few years ago when I was living in France, I often visited friends who lived in the country. Many of their neighbors had never met an American before. As an American I often surprised French people by talking about a cake made of carrots, which never failed to surprise them as they didn't know it and thought that was a bizarre idea.

So, one time while I was visiting I made a carrot cake for some of these French people. As I was making the batter, my friend Mireille was watching. When I added somewhere around 1 cup of oil, her jaw hit the floor. She was aghast. The idea of carrots in cake she could handle, but putting cooking oil in a cake was a shock. I assured her I was following the recipe.

Later, after dinner, as we all had carrot cake -- which everybody loved -- Mireille turned to me and she said, "I love your oil cake!"

The following year after the oil cake, a French friend found a French recipe for carrot cake which had no oil in it and very little butter. It was made with whipped egg whites. I'm going to see if I cannot find that recipe and post it here.

I agree with the French people now -- The majority of the above recipes call for about a CUP of oil. "We want the cake moist" people say. Oil makes a cake oily. If you want a moist cake, add butter and not oil.

By the way, a true carrot cake does not have sugary frosting. It has cream cheese in the PLACE of frosting (with no sugar added).

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Oil makes a cake oily. If you want a moist cake, add butter and not oil.

Yes, I agree. So why is it that so many carrot cake recipes are made with oil rather than butter? I have always abhorred the use of oil in carrot cakes and typically substitute 1/2 or all of the oil with melted butter. I find that butter helps to hide that chemical taste of leavenings that oil does nothing to mask.

Is it because carrot cake is supposed to be healthy, so the fats in the cake come from an unsaturated fat source?

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Oil makes a cake oily.  If you want a moist cake, add butter and not oil.

Yes, I agree. So why is it that so many carrot cake recipes are made with oil rather than butter? I have always abhorred the use of oil in carrot cakes and typically substitute 1/2 or all of the oil with melted butter. I find that butter helps to hide that chemical taste of leavenings that oil does nothing to mask.

Is it because carrot cake is supposed to be healthy, so the fats in the cake come from an unsaturated fat source?

The recipe I make, UCLA Carrot Cake (see first page of this thread) is made with butter and it is not as sweet as some of the other carrot cakes I have had. I make it without raisins.

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Is it because carrot cake is supposed to be healthy, so the fats in the cake come from an unsaturated fat source?

Yes, I think carrot cake originated in a period when health-foods were all the craze. Wasn't it very popular in the 70s? Carrot cake as health-food -- that's a laugh!

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So now I am quite intrigued by the postings that suggest to substitute butter for the oil in the carrot cake recipes. However, I note that some bakers here suggest either a full or half substitution of the oil with butter. I wonder which way I should go. Would using only butter change the taste or texture too much?


Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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So now I am quite intrigued by the postings that suggest to substitute butter for the oil in the carrot cake recipes.  However, I note that some bakers here suggest either a full or half substitution of the oil with butter.  I wonder which way I should go.  Would using only butter change the taste or texture too much?

Whatever you do, use melted butter instead of creamed butter, to keep the characteristically dense texture of carrot cake. Creaming the butter would give a totally different, fluffy texture.

I use half butter and half vegetable oil, but you should experiment to see what you like. You might find that substituting butter for all the vegetable oil results in a cake with too much butter flavor. After all, there is a LOT of vegetable oil in most carrot cake recipes. (I must confess, my favorite carrot cake recipe is one that I developed by including only 2/3 the fat (i.e., vegetable oil) called for in the usual recipe, and substituting butter for half of the oil.)


Edited by browniebaker (log)

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I am very depressed that no one wants to try the recipe I suggested. :sad:

I made your cake! It was an interesting cake that used 100% butter...the cake reminded me of the fabulous Emily Luchetti's Grandmother's Apple Cake I had once at Farallon restaurant...slightly caramel-y tasting with a slightly sticky exterior. I liked it better than the apple cake, in fact.

It seemed to be ready at 40 minutes, but I left it in there for the full 60 minutes (like what the recipe said) and the caramel taste fully developed. The cardamom was a nice touch.

It's not the classic carrot cake that comes to mind for carrot cakes (like the Southern Living recipe or Frog Commissary cakes), but it's good in it's own right. It was too sweet for me though.

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I made your cake! It was an interesting cake that used 100% butter...the cake reminded me of the fabulous Emily Luchetti's Grandmother's Apple Cake I had once at Farallon restaurant...slightly caramel-y tasting with a slightly sticky exterior. I liked it better than the apple cake, in fact.

It seemed to be ready at 40 minutes, but I left it in there for the full 60 minutes (like what the recipe said) and the caramel taste fully developed. The cardamom was a nice touch.

It's not the classic carrot cake that comes to mind for carrot cakes (like the Southern Living recipe or Frog Commissary cakes), but it's good in it's own right. It was too sweet for me though.

I am happy that you tried the cake. The truth is, since I have moved to Israel I have been reducing the sugar on most of my American cake recipes. I would probably cut the sugar to 1 1/4 cups for the cake batter.

I would also cut the powdered sugar in the frosting to 3/4 of a cup.

It has been a while since I have made the cake.

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